The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has released a new report on Saturday, April 22, 2023, on the number of new suspected cases of Meningitis. The agency recorded 212 new suspected infections and 23 deaths of Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) across three states of the federation. In the reporting week 13, which spanned March 27 to April 2, 2023, the number of new cases increased by eight percent compared to the previous week 12 percent (196 percent). The NCDC report shows that Jigawa State in the North-west accounted for 62 percent of the suspected cases. Yobe and Adamawa in the North East reported 17 and four cases respectively.
NCDC also noted that Yobe and Jigawa account for 17 and 9 persons respectively of the many people who died from the disease. The center added that the national multi-sectoral CSM Technical Working Group will continue to monitor response across states. Giving a further breakdown of CSM in Nigeria, the organization explained that from the beginning of the season, 21 states have reported suspected CSM cases in 2022/2023. Cumulatively, from week 40 of 2022 to week 13 of 2023, a total of 1,479 suspected cases were reported from 22 states in CSM seasons. These include 118 deaths, which represent a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 9.3 percent.
Meningitis is a devastating disease with a high fatality rate.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), meningitis is a devastating disease that can lead to serious long-term complications. The disease is the inflammation of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It is usually caused by infection, can be fatal and requires immediate medical care. Meningitis can be caused by several species of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Most of the infections is contagious and can be transmitted from person to person. Also, the disease can affect people of any age.
Despite that it affects people of all ages, children are at the most risk. The WHO says newborn babies are at most risk from Group B streptococcus, while young children are at higher risk from meningococcus, pneumococcus and haemophilus influenzae. Adolescents and young adults are at particular risk of meningococcal disease while the elderly are at particular risk of pneumococcal disease. Symptoms of meningitis vary depending on the cause, disease course (acute, subacute or chronic), brain involvement (meningo-encephalitis) and systemic complications (e.g., sepsis). Common symptoms of meningitis are neck stiffness, fever, confusion or altered mental status, headaches, nausea and vomiting.
Number of cases in Jigawa leads in the outbreak.
“A total of 512 samples were collected, 235 confirmed with 46 percent positivity rate since the beginning of the CSM seasons 2022/2023,” NCDC noted. It said the age group five to 14 years were the most affected age. Of this number, males were 57 percent, while females constitute 43 percent. It was added that 93 percent of all cumulative cases were from five states: Jigawa (1,064 cases), Yobe (234 cases), Zamfara (36 cases), Bauchi (23 cases) and Adamawa (21 cases).
With more emphasis on the North-Western state, NCDC explained that Jigawa has been in an outbreak since week 40 of 2022 with 11 out of its 22 Local Government Areas (LGAs) affected. Of the total 1,064 suspected cases, 213 cases were confirmed while 65 deaths with CFR 6.1 percent were recorded in the state as of week 13. In response to the outbreak, NCDC said it is collaborating with partners to deploy RRT and materials to support Jigawa State’s outbreak response.
WHO cautions Nigerians, gives preventive measures.
The disease center added that a reactive vaccination led by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) was conducted in 17 wards of four LGAs of Jigawa State between 25 to 26 March 2023. The LGAs are Sule Tankarkar, Gumel, Maigatari and Gagarawa. Meanwhile, WHO said the bacteria that cause meningitis are transmitted from person-to-person through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions from carriers. “Close and prolonged contact – such as kissing, sneezing or coughing on someone, or living in close quarters with an infected person – facilitates the spread of the disease. WHO added that the average incubation period is four days but can range between two and 10 days.